After a disruptive (and controversial) 2020, CrossFit will be back with a bang in 2021.

Now under Eric Roza’s new leadership, CrossFit Inc plans to kick off the competitive season early, with the Open resuming its traditional slot in February – the first step on the path to the CrossFit Games.

That means you’ll likely hear a lot about CrossFit in the months ahead, especially as Roza hopes to attract a record 500,000 entrants to the Open. The organisation has also recommitted its focus on the community via its affiliates, which aims to refresh the vibe in CrossFit boxes around the world.

About the 2021 CrossFit season

The CrossFit Open starts on 18 February 2021 and runs for five weeks. Competitors can qualify for a spot at the ‘Sanctionals’ round – a replacement for the previous Regionals.

Athletes who qualify at one of the independently-operated Sanctional events will move on to compete at the CrossFit Games.

The CrossFit experience

With all the renewed hype, it is the ideal time to give CrossFit a try, if you haven’t already. The high-intensity group-based classes in CrossFit boxes around the country consist of constantly varied, functional movements.

These training modalities include Olympic lifting, bodyweight exercises and other unconventional movements such as rope climbing and tyre flipping, and various forms of cardiovascular exercise. Classes aim to improve endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

Check the creds

But before you sign up for your first class, there are a few things you should consider. Julian Reichman-Israelsohn, owner and head trainer at Jo’burg-based CrossFit Platinum, suggests that anyone who is new to CrossFit should confirm the bona fides of your local ‘box’.

Always make sure the CrossFit box you’re investigating is a CrossFit affiliate. There are many charlatans out there trying to jump on the CrossFit bandwagon by using all the great qualities of the training methods but are not willing to pay their dues to the CrossFit community. They damage and dilute the CrossFit brand.”

READ MORE: Find the perfect CrossFit box

Qualifications matter

Next, ask to see the qualifications of the owner and the coaches at the box you’re considering.

A CrossFit Level One certification is the minimum qualification required by trainers at an affiliated CrossFit box. Many boxes have opened simply to make a quick buck, so make sure the owners and coaches are correctly qualified, passionate about what they do, and have the best interests of their clients at heart,” continues Reichman-Israelsohn.

There are too many unqualified and dangerous trainers out there who think they know everything, but they only end up hurting their clients and damaging the CrossFit name.”

A box with qualified and experienced coaches also reduces injury risks and ensures a more enjoyable experience for new clients, especially as CrossFit training is extremely technical.

READ MORE: Preventing CrossFit Injuries

Skills first

Accordingly, new members should undergo a structured program of skills development before joining their first group class. In this regard, a reputable CrossFit box worth your monthly membership fees should offer onboarding or beginner classes.

Alongside these focused classes to teach you and other ‘noobs’ proper lifting technique, new CrossFitters should spend extra time on core training and joint mobility and maintenance.

There are numerous mobilising exercises and stretches that can increase range of movement. If your coach is properly qualified, they will be able to assist you with exercises that include rollers, therabands, lacrosse balls, Voodoo bands, physio balls and other tools. Yoga, Pilates, and stretch classes are also great methods to get muscles and joints moving correctly,” adds Reichman-Israelsohn.

READ MORE: Next-level CrossFit recovery

Get the gear

And when you’re finally ready for the main class, remember that high-intensity, high-volume CrossFit training requires the right gear to get the best results and reduce your injury risk. Consider these basic items to get your CrossFit experience off to the right start:

Wrist wraps: Supports your wrists during lifting or pressing movements by providing joint stability without limiting range of motion. Wrist wraps are made from various materials, including neoprene, leather or synthetic materials.

CrossFit shoes: Training shoes are generally fit for purpose. That means your old running shoes won’t provide the right characteristics to get you through a WOD. Consider a purpose-designed pair of CrossFit shoes to get the right balance of stability, support, flexibility and breathability.

Weightlifting belt: May help to protect the lower back against injury during heavy lifts by increasing the pressure in your abdomen to better stabilise your core. This benefit can also increase performance.

Olympic (Oly) weightlifting shoes: Specially designed with a heel wedge to get the weight onto the balls of your feet quicker. Olys also offer better stability with a stiffer, solid base.

READ MORE: Reign large in the CrossFit arena with the UA Tribase™

Learn the lingo

CrossFit has a unique culture and a unique way of speaking. Don’t get confused or caught out – stride confidently into the box with a basic understanding of these common terms:

  • WOD: An acronym for ‘Workout of the Day’. Usually developed by the box’s trainer or released by HQ for the Open and Games.
  • Affiliate: A box that has “paid their dues” and is officially affiliated with the CrossFit brand. Affiliates require trainers who have received official CrossFit certifications.
  • Box: A CrossFit affiliated gym.
  • For time: A WOD measured against the clock – the time it takes to complete the prescribed workout.
  • MOBWOD: Mobility WOD and stretching work.
  • PB: Personal Best (aka PR – Personal Record)
  • Rx’d: Performing a CrossFit WOD exactly as prescribed by HQ.
  • Benchmark WODs: A standard workout structure that allows you to measure and compare your progress against others or your previous PB.

READ MORE: A CrossFit coach explains why high-intensity workouts are best for fat loss

Common benchmark WODs include:

Cindy: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats repeated for as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes.

Fran: A WOD for time with a 21-15-9 rep scheme that consists of thrusters (using 43kg for men, 29kg for women) and pull-ups.

Filthy Fifty: Complete 50 box jumps, 50 jumping pull-ups, 50 KB swings, 50 walking lunges, 50 knees-to-elbows, 50 push presses, 50 back extensions, 50 wall balls, 50 burpees, and 50 double-unders for time.

Murph: A one-mile (1.6km) run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 bodyweight squats, and another one-mile run.

Ultimately, doing your homework ensures that you’ll get the best out of your training and that your journey with CrossFit is a safe, worthwhile and exciting experience,” concludes Reichman-Israelsohn.

Visit to find a list of affiliates in your area.